James S. Williams
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Cocteau, Jean Marais and collaboration
in Jean Cocteau
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This chapter shows that for very different reasons Jean Marais and Edouard Dermit were active collaborators at the very centre of Jean Cocteau's film work and not simply idealised mirror images of Cocteau himself. It explores two of Marais's greatest screen performances for Cocteau, in L'Eternel retour and La Belle et la bête, two roles which on one level could not be more different in style and approach. Certain contemporary reviewers of L'Eternel retour questioned Marais's masculinity and even considered him an 'angel' of indeterminate sex, while one English critic even wondered if the film was deliberately pulling the Germans' leg in scenes such as Marais bursting into tears when upset. His performance in La Belle et la bête, according to Cocteau, demonstrated that he could act like Edouard de Max and Lucien Guitry whose earlier prestige and glamour he was now establishing for himself.

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